How To Get College Gigs for Bands | Book College Gigs
Page updated 3/1/2016
Getting gigs on the college and university circuit can be tricky, but we have the steps you need to take to start this journey. As a band grows a fan base, the members may feel the need to break into other venues to gain more regional popularity. One way to do this is to break into the college gig circuit. Colleges and Universities offer many student activities for college students to enjoy bands and entertainment. Bands that play college shows and gigs can enjoy a nice upside, but the barriers to entry may include alot of competition.
College gigs tend to pay more than bars, clubs, and pubs simply because the gigs may be less frequent and universities have more funds to put towards student activities. Bands often hit a brick wall when trying to book these college gigs for several reasons. Many times colleges and universities will only deal with certain booking agents or associations when booking student entertainment. Another reason may be that there can be quick turnover with student activities councils. Trying to get to know and build that relationship for future bookings can be difficult. Listed below we will describe several ways for bands to gain college gigs and shows.
The first way to book college gigs is to put in some serious research time to locate the student activities director for the college of interest. Some smaller universities may still book bands for student activities without using a campus booking association. It can't hurt to contact the student activity director and ask them what they may need as far as unsolicited submissions for events. Visit our college directory to locate universities of interest and search the website for their student activities director or similar contacts. Once you locate a contact they may ask you for items which could include a band press kit, demo CD, band video, band website URL, social networking band page, or other items. Please remember that larger colleges may book bands through associations that we will talk more about below.
Most college gigs are booked using Campus Associations. The two largest associations are NACA - The National Association for Campus Activities and APCA - Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. There are several pros and cons to using these campus associations to possibly book college gigs. The pros are pretty obvious as these associations have been around awhile and they have many colleges that use their services to find bands and entertainment for student activities. The NACA for example was founded in 1960 and is the largest campus booking association. The APCA was founded in 1994 and is growing as well. Both associations can set your band up in showcases so that prospective college bookers can review and possibly book your band. If you are lucky enough to secure college gigs, most college venues will rate your band as well. Let's hope that they rate your band well, as good ratings could lead to more gigs in the future. While both associations accept bands without a booking agent, it could be more beneficial if you go through an agent. They can do the leg work for you and submit any lengthy submission forms needed for gigs and showcases. Of course, most booking agents charge a fee for their service so be aware of that aspect of using an agent. Some other benefits of membership could include attending showcases, use of membership directories, listings of campus activities buyers, artist performance reports, and association marketing resources. Listed below are the association artist pages. Please be aware that these associations charge a fee for their services.
There are also a few cons associated with using campus associations to book university gigs. One of which is that the costs of memberships can get expensive. Some memberships can cost hundreds of dollars and other packages can cost over a thousand dollars. These membership fees may not be the only costs your band or agent will need to absorb. Their could also be application fees, fees for showcases, and other items. Please go to each associations website and make sure you are aware of their fee structure and the exact services you will receive for each fee paid.
The NACA offers packages at a region level which could save you some money if you are not interested in national exposure. Of course, the tradeoff is that if you get a lucrative college gig it could cover these upfront costs. It is a good idea to remember that membership is not a guarantee that your band will get college gigs. Please research each association for more information. Another con would be that it could take a while to secure gigs though these campus association websites. This article by Fran Snyder includes detail on experiences gigging the college circuit. This well thought out article gives a nice synopsis on how long it took to get established with college gigs and more.
How to get your band played on college radio - The reason we list college radio airplay here is that while you are researching campus activities directors, you may want to search for the college music programmer or campus DJ. If you know that you will be playing a college gig in the future, it could be hugely beneficial to get your original music played on that college radio station. It's important to remember that you should still promote college gigs. Even though the student activities council will most likely promote the show, the more people you get to the gig the better. The better the show attendance the better chance your band has at a good review and future booking at the venue. Self promote a college gig as well and contact the college newspapers and radio for show and event listings. Contact the campus music programmer or DJ to get their rules for demo music submission as well. Imagine that if your band would get campus radio airplay prior to the college gig you potentially gain more promotion and fans for the upcoming gig. Typically the music programmer and DJ will need a demo cd or mp3 music file for review.
University gigs can be lucrative for bands who can get on the college circuit. If your band is professional and has the right promotion materials, this could be a path for your musical act. Most gigs are played during the semester, so keep this in mind as well. While membership fees to the campus associations can get expensive, this path could be worth a try for your band. Media Web Source has not used these associations and does not endorse them. We encourage you to do your research before using these campus band booking associations.